Showing 1 - 25 of 94 results
Ras acts as a molecular switch between two forms of consolidated memory in Drosophila.
Long-lasting, consolidated memories require not only positive biological processes that facilitate long-term memories (LTM) but also the suppression of inhibitory processes that prevent them. The mushroom body neurons (MBn) in Drosophila melanogaster store protein synthesis-dependent LTM (PSD-LTM) as well as protein synthesis-independent, anesthesia-resistant memory (ARM). The formation of ARM inhibits PSD-LTM but the underlying molecular processes that mediate this interaction remain unknown. Here, we demonstrate that the Ras→Raf→rho kinase (ROCK) pathway in MBn suppresses ARM consolidation, allowing the formation of PSD-LTM. Our initial results revealed that the effects of Ras on memory are due to postacquisition processes. Ras knockdown enhanced memory expression but had no effect on acquisition. Additionally, increasing Ras activity optogenetically after, but not before, acquisition impaired memory performance. The elevated memory produced by Ras knockdown is a result of increased ARM. While Ras knockdown enhanced the consolidation of ARM, it eliminated PSD-LTM. We found that these effects are mediated by the downstream kinase Raf. Similar to Ras, knockdown of Raf enhanced ARM consolidation and impaired PSD-LTM. Surprisingly, knockdown of the canonical downstream extracellular signal-regulated kinase did not reproduce the phenotypes observed with Ras and Raf knockdown. Rather, Ras/Raf inhibition of ROCK was found to be responsible for suppressing ARM. Constitutively active ROCK enhanced ARM and impaired PSD-LTM, while decreasing ROCK activity rescued the enhanced ARM produced by Ras knockdown. We conclude that MBn Ras/Raf inhibition of ROCK suppresses the consolidation of ARM, which permits the formation of PSD-LTM.
RhoA Mediates Epithelial Cell Shape Changes via Mechanosensitive Endocytosis.
Epithelial remodeling involves ratcheting behavior whereby periodic contractility produces transient changes in cell-cell contact lengths, which stabilize to produce lasting morphogenetic changes. Pulsatile RhoA activity is thought to underlie morphogenetic ratchets, but how RhoA governs transient changes in junction length, and how these changes are rectified to produce irreversible deformation, remains poorly understood. Here, we use optogenetics to characterize responses to pulsatile RhoA in model epithelium. Short RhoA pulses drive reversible junction contractions, while longer pulses produce irreversible junction length changes that saturate with prolonged pulse durations. Using an enhanced vertex model, we show this is explained by two effects: thresholded tension remodeling and continuous strain relaxation. Our model predicts that structuring RhoA into multiple pulses overcomes the saturation of contractility and confirms this experimentally. Junction remodeling also requires formin-mediated E-cadherin clustering and dynamin-dependent endocytosis. Thus, irreversible junction deformations are regulated by RhoA-mediated contractility, membrane trafficking, and adhesion receptor remodeling.
Mapping the proximity interaction network of the Rho-family GTPases reveals signalling pathways and regulatory mechanisms.
Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RhoGEFs) and GTPase-activating proteins (RhoGAPs) coordinate the activation state of the Rho family of GTPases for binding to effectors. Here, we exploited proximity-dependent biotinylation to systematically define the Rho family proximity interaction network from 28 baits to produce 9,939 high-confidence proximity interactions in two cell lines. Exploiting the nucleotide states of Rho GTPases, we revealed the landscape of interactions with RhoGEFs and RhoGAPs. We systematically defined effectors of Rho proteins to reveal candidates for classical and atypical Rho proteins. We used optogenetics to demonstrate that KIAA0355 (termed GARRE here) is a RAC1 interactor. A functional screen of RHOG candidate effectors identified PLEKHG3 as a promoter of Rac-mediated membrane ruffling downstream of RHOG. We identified that active RHOA binds the kinase SLK in Drosophila and mammalian cells to promote Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin phosphorylation. Our proximity interactions data pave the way for dissecting additional Rho signalling pathways, and the approaches described here are applicable to the Ras family.
Blue light-triggered optogenetic system for treating uveal melanoma.
Uveal melanoma is the most common intraocular primary malignancy in adults and has been considered a fatal disease for decades. Optogenetics is an emerging technique that can control the activation of signaling components via irradiation with visible light. The clinical translation of optogenetics has been limited because of the need for surgical implantation of electrodes and relatively shallow tissue penetration. As visible light easily penetrates the eyes, we hypothesized that an optogenetics approach can be an effective treatment of uveal melanoma without surgery. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of this strategy by using a genetically encoded optogenetic system based on reversible blue light-induced binding pairs between Fas-CIB1-EGFP and CRY2-mCherry-FADD. Subretinal injection of B16 cells was performed to create a uveal melanoma model. Plasmids pairs were co-transfected into B16 cells. We found that blue light irradiation dynamically controlled the translocation of FADD to Fas on the plasma membrane and induced the apoptosis of B16 cells transfected with the optogenetic nanosystem in vitro. Moreover, the blue light-controlled optogenetic nanosystem suppressed the growth of uveal melanoma in vivo by inducing apoptosis. These results suggest that light-controlled optogenetic therapy can be used as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for uveal melanoma.
Optimizing photoswitchable MEK.
Optogenetic approaches are transforming quantitative studies of cell-signaling systems. A recently developed photoswitchable mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1 (MEK1) enzyme (psMEK) short-circuits the highly conserved Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase (ERK)-signaling cascade at the most proximal step of effector kinase activation. However, since this optogenetic tool relies on phosphorylation-mimicking substitutions in the activation loop of MEK, its catalytic activity is predicted to be substantially lower than that of wild-type MEK that has been phosphorylated at these residues. Here, we present evidence that psMEK indeed has suboptimal functionality in vivo and propose a strategy to circumvent this limitation by harnessing gain-of-function, destabilizing mutations in MEK. Specifically, we demonstrate that combining phosphomimetic mutations with additional mutations in MEK, chosen for their activating potential, restores maximal kinase activity in vitro. We establish that this modification can be tuned by the choice of the destabilizing mutation and does not interfere with reversible activation of psMEK in vivo in both Drosophila and zebrafish. To illustrate the types of perturbations enabled by optimized psMEK, we use it to deliver pulses of ERK activation during zebrafish embryogenesis, revealing rheostat-like responses of an ERK-dependent morphogenetic event.
Construction of light-activated neurotrophin receptors using the improved Light-Induced Dimerizer (iLID) .
Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) play crucial roles in human health, and their misregulation is implicated in disorders ranging from neurodegenerative disorders to cancers. The highly conserved mechanism of activation of RTKs makes them especially appealing candidates for control via optogenetic dimerization methods. This work offers a strategy for using the improved Light-Induced Dimer (iLID) system with a constructed tandem-dimer of its binding partner nano (tdnano) to build light-activatable versions of RTKs. In the absence of light, the iLID-RTK is cytosolic, monomeric and inactive. Under blue light, the iLID + tdnano system recruits two copies of iLID-RTK to tdnano, dimerizing and activating the RTK. We demonstrate that iLID opto-iTrkA and opto-iTrkB are capable of reproducing downstream ERK and Akt signaling only in the presence of tdnano. We further show with our opto-iTrkA that the system is compatible with multi-day and population-level activation of TrkA in PC12 cells. By leveraging genetic targeting of tdnano, we achieve RTK activation at a specific subcellular location even with whole-cell illumination, allowing us to confidently probe the impact of context on signaling outcome.
Optogenetic inhibition of Delta reveals digital Notch signaling output during tissue differentiation.
Spatio-temporal regulation of signalling pathways plays a key role in generating diverse responses during the development of multicellular organisms. The role of signal dynamics in transferring signalling information in vivo is incompletely understood. Here we employ genome engineering in Drosophila melanogaster to generate a functional optogenetic allele of the Notch ligand Delta (opto-Delta), which replaces both copies of the endogenous wild type locus. Using clonal analysis, we show that optogenetic activation blocks Notch activation through cis-inhibition in signal-receiving cells. Signal perturbation in combination with quantitative analysis of a live transcriptional reporter of Notch pathway activity reveals differential tissue- and cell-scale regulatory modes. While at the tissue-level the duration of Notch signalling determines the probability with which a cellular response will occur, in individual cells Notch activation acts through a switch-like mechanism. Thus, time confers regulatory properties to Notch signalling that exhibit integrative digital behaviours during tissue differentiation.
Repurposing protein degradation for optogenetic modulation of protein activities.
Non-neuronal optogenetic approaches empower precise regulation of protein dynamics in live cells but often require target-specific protein engineering. To address this challenge, we developed a generalizable light-modulated protein stabilization system (GLIMPSe) to control intracellular protein level independent of its functionality. We applied GLIMPSe to control two distinct classes of proteins: mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase 3 (MKP3), a negative regulator of the extracellu-lar signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, as well as a constitutively active form of MEK (CA MEK), a positive regulator of the same pathway. Kinetics study showed that light-induced protein stabilization could be achieved within 30 minutes of blue light stimulation. GLIMPSe enables target-independent optogenetic control of protein activities and therefore minimizes the systematic variation embedded within different photoactivatable proteins. Overall, GLIMPSe promises to achieve light-mediated post-translational stabilization of a wide array of target proteins in live cells.
Optogenetic rescue of a developmental patterning mutant.
Animal embryos are partitioned into spatial domains by complex patterns of signaling and gene expression, yet it is still largely unknown what features of a developmental signal are essential. Part of the challenge arises because it has been impossible to “paint” arbitrary signaling patterns on an embryo to test their sufficiency. Here we demonstrate exactly this capability by combining optogenetic control of Ras/Erk signaling with the genetic loss of terminal signaling in early Drosophila embryos. Simple all-or-none light inputs at the embryonic termini were able to completely rescue normal development, generating viable larvae and fertile adults from this otherwise-lethal genetic mutant. Systematically varying illumination parameters further revealed that at least three distinct developmental programs are triggered by different cumulative doses of Erk. These results open the door to the targeted design of complex morphogenetic outcomes as well as the ability to correct patterning errors that underlie developmental defects.
FRET-assisted photoactivation of flavoproteins for in vivo two-photon optogenetics.
Optical dimerizers have been developed to untangle signaling pathways, but they are of limited use in vivo, partly due to their inefficient activation under two-photon (2P) excitation. To overcome this problem, we developed Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-assisted photoactivation, or FRAPA. On 2P excitation, mTagBFP2 efficiently absorbs and transfers the energy to the chromophore of CRY2. Based on structure-guided engineering, a chimeric protein with 40% FRET efficiency was developed and named 2P-activatable CRY2, or 2paCRY2. 2paCRY2 was employed to develop a RAF1 activation system named 2paRAF. In three-dimensionally cultured cells expressing 2paRAF, extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) was efficiently activated by 2P excitation at single-cell resolution. Photoactivation of ERK was also accomplished in the epidermal cells of 2paRAF-expressing mice. We further developed an mTFP1-fused LOV domain that exhibits efficient response to 2P excitation. Collectively, FRAPA will pave the way to single-cell optical control of signaling pathways in vivo.
Biphasic Response of Protein Kinase A to Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate Triggers Distinct Epithelial Phenotypes.
Protein Kinase A (PKA) is an important cellular signaling hub whose activity has long been assumed to monotonically depend on the level of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Using an optogenetic tool that can introduce precise amounts of cAMP in MDCKI cells, we demonstrate that PKA activity is instead characterized by a biphasic response, in which PKA activity increases and then decreases as a function of cAMP. We reveal that this behavior results from an elaborate integration by PKA of many cellular signals triggered by cAMP. In addition to the direct activation of PKA, cAMP also modulates the activity of p38 and ERK, which then converge on PKA to inhibit it. These interactions and their ensuing biphasic PKA profile have important physiological repercussions, triggering two distinct transcriptional programs elicited by low and high cAMP doses. These transcriptional responses in turn influence the ability of MDCKI cells to proliferate and form acini. Our data, supported by computational analyses, synthesize a set of network interconnections involving PKA and other important signaling pathways into a model that demonstrates how cells can capitalize on signal integration to create a diverse set of responses to cAMP concentration and produce complex input-output relationships.
Optogenetic control of protein binding using light-switchable nanobodies.
A growing number of optogenetic tools have been developed to control binding between two engineered protein domains. In contrast, relatively few tools confer light-switchable binding to a generic target protein of interest. Such a capability would offer substantial advantages, enabling photoswitchable binding to endogenous target proteins in vivo or light-based protein purification in vitro. Here, we report the development of opto-nanobodies (OptoNBs), a versatile class of chimeric photoswitchable proteins whose binding to proteins of interest can be enhanced or inhibited upon blue light illumination. We find that OptoNBs are suitable for a range of applications: modulating intracellular protein localization and signaling pathway activity and controlling target protein binding to surfaces and in protein separation columns. This work represents a first step towards programmable photoswitchable regulation of untagged, endogenous target proteins.
Compartmentalized cAMP Generation by Engineered Photoactivated Adenylyl Cyclases.
Because small-molecule activators of adenylyl cyclases (AC) affect ACs cell-wide, it is challenging to explore the signaling consequences of AC activity emanating from specific intracellular compartments. We explored this issue using a series of engineered, optogenetic, spatially restricted, photoactivable adenylyl cyclases (PACs) positioned at the plasma membrane (PM), the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM), and the nucleus (Nu). The biochemical consequences of brief photostimulation of PAC is primarily limited to the intracellular site occupied by the PAC. By contrast, sustained photostimulation results in distal cAMP signaling. Prolonged cAMP generation at the OMM profoundly stimulates nuclear protein kinase (PKA) activity. We have found that phosphodiesterases 3 (OMM and PM) and 4 (PM) modulate proximal (local) cAMP-triggered activity, whereas phosphodiesterase 4 regulates distal cAMP activity as well as the migration of PKA's catalytic subunit into the nucleus.
Noise-reducing optogenetic negative-feedback gene circuits in human cells.
Gene autorepression is widely present in nature and is also employed in synthetic biology, partly to reduce gene expression noise in cells. Optogenetic systems have recently been developed for controlling gene expression levels in mammalian cells, but most have utilized activator-based proteins, neglecting negative feedback except for in silico control. Here, we engineer optogenetic gene circuits into mammalian cells to achieve noise-reduction for precise gene expression control by genetic, in vitro negative feedback. We build a toolset of these noise-reducing Light-Inducible Tuner (LITer) gene circuits using the TetR repressor fused with a Tet-inhibiting peptide (TIP) or a degradation tag through the light-sensitive LOV2 protein domain. These LITers provide a range of nearly 4-fold gene expression control and up to 5-fold noise reduction from existing optogenetic systems. Moreover, we use the LITer gene circuit architecture to control gene expression of the cancer oncogene KRAS(G12V) and study its downstream effects through phospho-ERK levels and cellular proliferation. Overall, these novel LITer optogenetic platforms should enable precise spatiotemporal perturbations for studying multicellular phenotypes in developmental biology, oncology and other biomedical fields of research.
Cyclic Nucleotide-Specific Optogenetics Highlights Compartmentalization of the Sperm Flagellum into cAMP Microdomains.
Inside the female genital tract, mammalian sperm undergo a maturation process called capacitation, which primes the sperm to navigate across the oviduct and fertilize the egg. Sperm capacitation and motility are controlled by 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). Here, we show that optogenetics, the control of cellular signaling by genetically encoded light-activated proteins, allows to manipulate cAMP dynamics in sperm flagella and, thereby, sperm capacitation and motility by light. To this end, we used sperm that express the light-activated phosphodiesterase LAPD or the photo-activated adenylate cyclase bPAC. The control of cAMP by LAPD or bPAC combined with pharmacological interventions provides spatiotemporal precision and allows to probe the physiological function of cAMP compartmentalization in mammalian sperm.
High-throughput multicolor optogenetics in microwell plates.
Optogenetic probes can be powerful tools for dissecting complexity in cell biology, but there is a lack of instrumentation to exploit their potential for automated, high-information-content experiments. This protocol describes the construction and use of the optoPlate-96, a platform for high-throughput three-color optogenetics experiments that allows simultaneous manipulation of common red- and blue-light-sensitive optogenetic probes. The optoPlate-96 enables illumination of individual wells in 96-well microwell plates or in groups of wells in 384-well plates. Its design ensures that there will be no cross-illumination between microwells in 96-well plates, and an active cooling system minimizes sample heating during light-intensive experiments. This protocol details the steps to assemble, test, and use the optoPlate-96. The device can be fully assembled without specialized equipment beyond a 3D printer and a laser cutter, starting from open-source design files and commercially available components. We then describe how to perform a typical optogenetics experiment using the optoPlate-96 to stimulate adherent mammalian cells. Although optoPlate-96 experiments are compatible with any plate-based readout, we describe analysis using quantitative single-cell immunofluorescence. This workflow thus allows complex optogenetics experiments (independent control of stimulation colors, intensity, dynamics, and time points) with high-dimensional outputs at single-cell resolution. Starting from 3D-printed and laser-cut components, assembly and testing of the optoPlate-96 can be accomplished in 3-4 h, at a cost of ~$600. A full optoPlate-96 experiment with immunofluorescence analysis can be performed within ~24 h, but this estimate is variable depending on the cell type and experimental parameters.
OpEn-Tag-A Customizable Optogenetic Toolbox To Dissect Subcellular Signaling.
Subcellular localization of signal molecules is a hallmark in organizing the signaling network. OpEn-Tag is a modular optogenetic endomembrane targeting toolbox that allows alteration of the localization and therefore the activity of signaling processes with the spatiotemporal resolution of optogenetics. OpEn-Tag is a two-component system employing (1) a variety of targeting peptides fused to and thereby dictating the localization of mCherry-labeled cryptochrome 2 binding protein CIBN toward distinct endomembranes and (2) the cytosolic, fluorescence-labeled blue light photoreceptor cryptochrome 2 as a customizable building block that can be fused to proteins of interest. The combination of OpEn-Tag with growth factor stimulation or the use of two membrane anchor sequences allows investigation of multilayered signal transduction processes as demonstrated here for the protein kinase AKT.
Engineered illumination devices for optogenetic control of cellular signaling dynamics.
Spatially and temporally varying patterns of morphogen signals during development drive cell fate specification at the proper location and time. However, current in vitro methods typically do not allow for precise, dynamic, spatiotemporal control of morphogen signaling and are thus insufficient to readily study how morphogen dynamics impact cell behavior. Here we show that optogenetic Wnt/β-catenin pathway activation can be controlled at user-defined intensities, temporal sequences, and spatial patterns using novel engineered illumination devices for optogenetic photostimulation and light activation at variable amplitudes (LAVA). The optical design of LAVA devices was optimized for uniform illumination of multi-well cell culture plates to enable high-throughput, spatiotemporal optogenetic activation of signaling pathways and protein-protein interactions. Using the LAVA devices, variation in light intensity induced a dose-dependent response in optoWnt activation and downstream Brachyury expression in human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Furthermore, time-varying and spatially localized patterns of light revealed tissue patterning that models embryonic presentation of Wnt signals in vitro. The engineered LAVA devices thus provide a low-cost, user-friendly method for high-throughput and spatiotemporal optogenetic control of cell signaling for applications in developmental and cell biology.
A live-cell screen for altered Erk dynamics reveals principles of proliferative control.
Complex, time-varying responses have been observed widely in cell signaling, but how specific dynamics are generated or regulated is largely unknown. One major obstacle has been that high-throughput screens for identifying pathway components are typically incompatible with the live-cell assays used to monitor dynamics. Here, we address this challenge by performing a drug screen for altered Erk signaling dynamics in primary mouse keratinocytes. We screened a library of 429 kinase inhibitors, monitoring Erk activity over 5 h in more than 80,000 single live cells. The screen revealed both known and uncharacterized modulators of Erk dynamics, including inhibitors of non-EGFR receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) that increased Erk pulse frequency and overall activity. Using drug treatment and direct optogenetic control, we demonstrate that drug-induced changes to Erk dynamics alter the conditions under which cells proliferate. Our work opens the door to high-throughput screens using live-cell biosensors and reveals that cell proliferation integrates information from Erk dynamics as well as additional permissive cues.
Optogenetic control of Wnt signaling for modeling early embryogenic patterning with human pluripotent stem cells.
The processes of cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and self-organization during early embryonic development are governed by dynamic, spatially and temporally varying morphogen signals. Analogous tissue patterns emerge spontaneously in embryonic stem cell (ESC) models for gastrulation, but mechanistic insight into this self-organization is limited by a lack of molecular methods to precisely control morphogen signal dynamics. Here we combine optogenetic stimulation and single-cell imaging approaches to study self-organization of human pluripotent stem cells. Precise control of morphogen signal dynamics, achieved through activation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling over a broad high dynamic range (>500-fold) using an optoWnt optogenetic system, drove broad transcriptional changes and mesendoderm differentiation of human ESCs at high efficiency (>95% cells). Furthermore, activating Wnt signaling in subpopulations of ESCs in 2D and 3D cultures induced cell self-organization and morphogenesis reminiscent of human gastrulation, including changes in cell migration and epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Our findings thus reveal an instructive role for Wnt in directing cell patterning in this ESC model for gastrulation.
NF-κB signaling dynamics is controlled by a dose-sensing autoregulatory loop.
Over the last decade, multiple studies have shown that signaling proteins activated in different temporal patterns, such as oscillatory, transient, and sustained, can result in distinct gene expression patterns or cell fates. However, the molecular events that ensure appropriate stimulus- and dose-dependent dynamics are not often understood and are difficult to investigate. Here, we used single-cell analysis to dissect the mechanisms underlying the stimulus- and dose-encoding patterns in the innate immune signaling network. We found that Toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 receptor (IL-1R) signaling dynamics relied on a dose-dependent, autoinhibitory loop that rendered cells refractory to further stimulation. Using inducible gene expression and optogenetics to perturb the network at different levels, we identified IL-1R-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) as the dose-sensing node responsible for limiting signal flow during the innate immune response. Although the kinase activity of IRAK1 was not required for signal propagation, it played a critical role in inhibiting the nucleocytoplasmic oscillations of the transcription factor NF-κB. Thus, protein activities that may be "dispensable" from a topological perspective can nevertheless be essential in shaping the dynamic response to the external environment.
Reversible Optogenetic Control of Growth Factor Signaling During Cell Differentiation and Vertebrate Embryonic Development.
To decipher the kinetic regulation of growth factor signaling outcomes, I will introduce our recently developed non-neuronal optogenetic strategies that enable reversible control of growth factor signaling during cell differentiation and embryonic development.
Light-based tuning of ligand half-life supports kinetic proofreading model of T cell signaling.
T cells are thought to discriminate self from foreign peptides by converting small differences in ligand binding half-life into large changes in cell signaling. Such a kinetic proofreading model has been difficult to test directly, as existing methods of altering ligand binding half-life also change other potentially important biophysical parameters, most notably the mechanical stability of the receptor-ligand interaction. Here we develop an optogenetic approach to specifically tune the binding half-life of a chimeric antigen receptor without changing other binding parameters and provide direct evidence of kinetic proofreading in T cell signaling. This half-life discrimination is executed in the proximal signaling pathway, downstream of ZAP70 recruitment and upstream of diacylglycerol accumulation. Our methods represent a general tool for temporal and spatial control of T cell signaling and extend the reach of optogenetics to probe pathways where the individual molecular kinetics, rather than the ensemble average, gates downstream signaling.
Optogenetic control shows that kinetic proofreading regulates the activity of the T cell receptor.
The immune system distinguishes between self and foreign antigens. The kinetic proofreading (KPR) model proposes that T cells discriminate self from foreign ligands by the different ligand binding half-lives to the T cell receptor (TCR). It is challenging to test KPR as the available experimental systems fall short of only altering the binding half-lives and keeping other parameters of the interaction unchanged. We engineered an optogenetic system using the plant photoreceptor phytochrome B (PhyB) as a ligand to selectively control the dynamics of ligand binding to the TCR by light. This opto-ligand-TCR system was combined with the unique property of PhyB to continuously cycle between the binding and non-binding states under red light, with the light intensity determining the cycling rate and thus the binding duration. Mathematical modeling of our experimental datasets showed that indeed the ligand-TCR interaction half-life is the decisive factor for activating downstream TCR signaling, substantiating KPR.
Membrane-Associated, Not Cytoplasmic or Nuclear, FGFR1 Induces Neuronal Differentiation.
The intracellular transport of receptor tyrosine kinases results in the differential activation of various signaling pathways. In this study, optogenetic stimulation of fibroblast growth factor receptor type 1 (FGFR1) was performed to study the effects of subcellular targeting of receptor kinases on signaling and neurite outgrowth. The catalytic domain of FGFR1 fused to the algal light-oxygen-voltage-sensing (LOV) domain was directed to different cellular compartments (plasma membrane, cytoplasm and nucleus) in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) and pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells. Blue light stimulation elevated the pERK and pPLCγ1 levels in membrane-opto-FGFR1-transfected cells similarly to ligand-induced receptor activation; however, no changes in pAKT levels were observed. PC12 cells transfected with membrane-opto-FGFR1 exhibited significantly longer neurites after light stimulation than after growth factor treatment, and significantly more neurites extended from their cell bodies. The activation of cytoplasmic FGFR1 kinase enhanced ERK signaling in HEK293 cells but not in PC12 cells and did not induce neuronal differentiation. The stimulation of FGFR1 kinase in the nucleus also did not result in signaling changes or neurite outgrowth. We conclude that FGFR1 kinase needs to be associated with membranes to induce the differentiation of PC12 cells mainly via ERK activation.